Supervisors, it’s been over a century since the invention of manufacturing in the modern sense, and yet a lot of us are still stuck in old views that started then. Views such as team members being replaceable parts in a large machine. This is not so, especially in today’s economy. A company’s strongest assets and biggest flaws are always its team. Forcing team members to do tasks that they’re not good at is almost assuredly a way to high employee turn-over. Yes, if it’s in the job description, they should be able to do it, but that doesn’t mean that everyone in that same position should be doing every task in the description every day.
Just What They’re Good At
One reason for not forcing everyone to do everything is slowing productivity. If someone is clearly excelling at one task, chances are good that someone else on the team excels at the tasks he’s not good at. So don’t make him do those tasks! Let him give his difficulties to someone who is good at those types of things, and allow that person to give him the tasks that the first is great at. Everyone has differing strengths and weaknesses. Let employees know that if they have a task they’re good at, they will be allowed to do just that task for a majority of the work period.
Anytime employees are allowed to trade tasks, they will eventually reach the point where everyone is only doing the stuff they’re good at (and thus enjoy, because people always enjoy bragging about their abilities). Once everyone on the team is only doing what they’re really good at, you’ll see a huge increase in productivity. This is because when someone finds a task difficult, they have to move much slower than usual. On the other hand, when someone has mastered a task, they can do that task without thinking, and without error. This will show a dramatic increase in work completed.
I alluded to this much earlier, but when someone is good at something, doing that something at work will usually make them enjoy work much better than if they were simply mediocre at it, or terrible at it. A side benefit of increased enjoyment at work is that team members will jump into their tasks with more gusto, and spend less time procrastinating on those tasks. This adds up to a lot of extra work completed throughout a standard work year.
Usually, I like to either sum-up what I’ve said, or give learning assignments at the end, but this time, the information is relatively straight-forward. Generally, if you have a team, and you already know what people are good at, you can rearrange the tasks in such a way that everyone is doing what they excel in. However, if you don’t know what your people are good at, you can always just ask them what they think they’re good at. Get them all to submit their ideas of what they’re good at on paper, and you can then use those papers to rearrange tasks accordingly. That way, you can see that every task is covered adequately.